E-learning Platform 2.0

Sep 2, 2008

Levitt had an interview for the Society of Fellows, the venerable intellectual clubhouse at Harvard that pays young scholars to do their own work, for three years, with no commitments. Levitt felt he didn’t stand a chance. For starters, he didn’t consider himself an intellectual. He would be interviewed over dinner by the senior fellows, a collection of world-renowned philosophers, scientists, and historians. He worried he wouldn’t have enough conversation to last even the first course.

Disquietingly, one of the senior fellows said to Levitt, “I’m having a hard time seeing the unifying theme of your work. Could you explain it?”

Levitt was stymied. He had no idea what his unifying theme was, or if he even had one.

Amartya Sen, the future Nobel-winning economist, jumped in and neatly summarized what he saw as Levitt’s theme.

Yes, Levitt said eagerly, that’s my theme.

Another fellow then offered another theme.

You’re right, said Levitt, that’s my theme.

And so it went, like dogs tugging at a bone, until the philosopher Robert Nozick interrupted. “How old are you, Steve?” he asked.


Nozick turned to the other fellows: “He’s twenty-six years old. Why does he need to have a unifying theme? Maybe he’s going to be one of those people who’s so talented he doesn’t need one. He’ll take a question and he’ll just answer it, and it’ll be fine.”


We are only one month old. Why do we need an identity? Maybe we're going to be one of those people who're so innovative we don't need a traditional one. We've spotted an issue, and we'll just tackle it, and it'll be fine.

While we're compiling an e-learning package that we think nobody has done before, we've still stuck to the traditional way of identifying ourselves: become a part of an organization. Ironically, the core technologies of our e-learning package is entirely based online (except for the Edubuntu platform).

What do you think if we call ourselves an E-learning Platform 2.0? Or something similar? I mean, the naming is secondary at this stage, but the idea is we will define ourselves as an online platform delivering E-learning 2.0 packages. To be more specific, we do not exist offline when it comes to what we're doing.

What's the point of doing 2.0 when you're not 2.0 yourself? Ever since the idea was born, I've had a strong feeling that this is gonna change everything, but didn't foresee that this will today change the way we want to identify ourselves.

What matters is what you do, not how we are. But it comes in handy when we want to communicate with our sponsors and other stakeholders, including our partners, effectively.

This is gonna be challenging, but as the philosopher put it: "It'll be fine". Need more time to mull it over. :)